Sunday, 25 September 2011

The needs of borrowers

David Graeber prefers what he calls human economics over market economies.  While he claims not to imply any moral preference over human economies (strange choice of adjective, though), he does see them as having a focus not on the accumulation of wealth, but with the cultural management of human beings.  This management though, includes many forms of savagery and many forms of beauty - all the forms of human culture, in other words.  For him, something bad happens when we anonymise currencies and overly abstract human motivations and behaviours, especially if we use mathematics to do it.  

This seems unfair to mathematics, to the human capacity and desire to abstract, to understand, to get an overview, to take a punt on what is important, but also it seems unfair on the way we anonymise welfare in a modern economy.  As a balancing argument in favour of the rather anonymous way we manage our welfare systems, I suggest the book 'The Needs to Strangers', by Michael Ignatieff.

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